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Professional News
N.Y. Drug Courts Reduce Recidivism Rates
Psychiatric News
Volume 39 Number 2 page 9-9

A new study, conducted under the auspices of the Center for Court Innovation (CCI), reports "consistent and meaningful recidivism impacts" as a result of the use of drug courts in New York State.

In the "drug court model," according to the team of researchers, addicted offenders are linked to treatment; their progress is monitored by a drug court team composed of a judge, attorneys, and program staff; participants engage in direct interaction with the judge, who responds to progress and setbacks with a range of rewards and sanctions; and successful participants generally have the charges against them dismissed or reduced, while those who fail receive jail or prison sentences.

CCI, in collaboration with the New York State Unified Court System, spent three years documenting the policies, participant characteristics, and participants’ performance in 11 of the state’s largest and oldest drug courts.

Among the study’s findings are:

• Drug court participation led to a lower probability of recidivism three years after the initial arrest. Depending on the drug court, recidivism reductions ranged from 13 percent to 47 percent, relative to the comparison group level.

• When in-program to post-program recidivism rates for drug court participants were compared, recidivism did not rise in the post-program period, but rather declined in three of the six courts. Results in most sites revealed positive long-term impacts persisting beyond the period of active judicial supervision.

• Drug court graduates were less likely than comparison defendants to be recidivists in all six courts. However, drug court failures were as likely, if not more so, to commit a new offense in four of the six courts. The authors conclude that the benefits of drug court participation largely accrue to those who successfully graduate.

"The New York State Adult Drug Court Evaluation" is posted online at http://courtinnovation.org/pdf/drug_court_eval.pdf.

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